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How a backhoe attachment can extend the capability of your skid-steer loader

Backhoe attachments give skid steers and compact track loaders more flexibility

Cat compact track loader with BH130 backhoe attachment
Cat D3 compact track loader with BH130 backhoe attachment.

Skid-steer loaders are versatile members of the team on all kinds of work sites, from landscaping to light construction. A big part of that versatility is the ability to use a variety of attachments that make skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders even more capable for different tasks.

One task that is more challenging for skid steers is deep digging. However, a backhoe attachment can make a difference there. In jobs where trenching or deeper digging work might require a backhoe loader, small excavator, or other equipment, a skid steer or CTL equipped with a backhoe attachment can be used effectively and add one more role to the resume of the skid-steer loader.

A John Deere backhoe attachment.

What is a backhoe attachment?

Just like any other attachment, a backhoe attachment can be added to the machine easily to improve versatility. Different manufacturers have different approaches for their attachments, but the general idea is the same: a backhoe assembly is connected to the loader and its hydraulic circuits, and the operator is then able to operate the boom, stick and bucket with a set of controls mounted either on the backhoe attachment or the machine. In some cases, the cab door of the machine may need to be removed for use of the controls.

Depending on the manufacturer, adding the attachment may be as simple as using a universal connecting system. For example, Bobcat offers an attachment that can connect using its Bob-Tach mounting system for ease of use. Caterpillar features the BH130 backhoe that pairs with its D3 line of loaders, and integrates the attachment with the in-cab systems and controls for easy operation and high productivity.

Many of these units feature stabilizers that give better ground contact when digging. Pivot points allow the boom to swing back and forth while remaining in one position. Side shift is another capability that may be available, allowing digging from the best position possible.

Bobcat backhoe attachment controlled from outside the cab.

How do users benefit from backhoe attachments?

Selecting a backhoe attachment option to pair with a smaller machine provides a number of benefits – notably giving skid steers the opportunity to replace larger, costlier backhoes in a fleet. Backhoe attachments are reasonably priced and work with a variety of machine pairings, adding flexibility.

Once the backhoe attachment is in place, the user can select a bucket for whatever type of job they are doing and put that machine to work – a range of buckets can fit on these units. Backhoe attachments have a variety of operating capacities and depths, but are capable of a variety of uses such as digging trenches for utility installation, grading drainage ditches, working in areas that require minimal ground disturbance, moving fill, and more.

In addition to buckets, many of the backhoe attachments available can be paired with different attachments themselves – augers, breakers and many others, depending on the need of the tool and the model of attachment selected.

What kind of backhoe attachment a buyer might want depends on their particular needs. It is important to review the specifications of the unit and the equipment it will be paired with to ensure the right purchase is made.

Maintenance tips for attachments

Just like with a full sized backhoe, the best way to ensure your attachment is ready for work – and save on repair cost – is to keep up with regular maintenance. These machines are relatively easy to maintain, and regular inspection of the backhoe unit and bucket will pay off in the long run.

Operators should check the unit over frequently, inspecting hoses and fittings along the backhoe for potential leaks. Regular lubrication is a must for effective operation, and it's important to review the operating manual from the manufacturer to be certain each lubrication point on the backhoe is serviced properly. When it comes to buckets, a regular review should be done as well. Many buckets come with replaceable bolt-on teeth – check these frequently and, if required, it's a simple task to remove the bolts, change out the teeth and carry on.

Who manufactures backhoe attachments?


Bradco's 511B Backhoe is targeted at light construction and landscaping, as well as agriculture. It features optimum performance when paired with equipment using 9 to 12 GPM hydraulic systems. It fits both SSL and CTL units and has a 132-inch max digging depth. It features 5,676 pounds of max digging force. The unit has fold-down stabilizers and bucket options from 12 to 38 inches are available.


With a range of attachment options for different machine sizes, Bobcat has a comprehensive collection of easy to operate backhoe attachments in its portfolio. The units range in digging depth from 76.2 to 135.7 inches, have 88 to 166 inches in maximum reach, and bucket digging force of between 2,200 and 8,611 lb. ft. The attachments can be installed and removed easily and offer easier transportation for better cost savings. Operation is easy and smooth, giving the user a clear line of sight into the hole. There's a broad range of bucket options and other attachments that pair with the unit as well.

Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond's skid-steer backhoe attachment is a quick and easy way to trench, the manufacturer states. According to Blue Diamond, the unit uses the biggest cylinder in the industry, and features the largest bucket capacity. Linkage geometry gives greater bucket rotation and breakout forces, as well. Overall length when the bucket is fully extended is 96 inches, and the unit can dig to 72 inches. Bucket teeth are replaceable, and bucket options range in width from 9 to 24 inches.


Caterpillar offers the BH130 Smart, designed to pair with Cat's D3 line of SSL and CTL machines, and features easy operation thanks to integrated controls in the cab – the existing joysticks pair with the attachment without removing the door of the machine or making other adjustments. Backhoe digging depth is 117 inches, bucket breakout force is 7012.9 pounds and overall length is 87 inches.


A number of backhoe units are available through Edge, part of the Manitou Group, offering SSL and CTL users the power to handle excavation jobs. Excavate and grade trenches, septic tanks or other jobs without bringing larger machines to the site. Edge models feature 180 degree boom pivot rotation and digging depths from 101 to 133 inches. Bucket digging forces range from 3,895 to 6,200 pounds. Cab doors must be removed for installation.

John Deere

Deere offers three backhoe attachment options that combine productivity, ease of operation and durability. A 180-degree swing offers ease of use and efficiency in confined spaces, and a low-profile console gives greater visibility. The BH9, BH10 and BH11 backhoes offer dig depths of 110, 116 and 133 inches, paired with reach of 146, 153 and 173 inches and loading heights of 93, 82 and 96 inches respectively.

Company info

250 East Beaton Drive
P.O. Box 6000
West Fargo, ND
US, 58078


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100 North East Adams Street
Peoria, IL
US, 61629


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2800 N. Zeeb Rd.
Dexter, MI
US, 48130


Phone number:

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4512 Anderson Road
Knoxville, TN
US, 37918


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One John Deere Place
Moline, IL
US, 61265


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430, rue de l'Aubinière
Ancenis Cedex,
FR, BP 10249 44158


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